Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic who was paralyzed in a diving accident as a teenager, talks about her wedding day. She says, “I felt awkward as my girlfriends strained to shift my paralyzed body into a cumbersome wedding gown. No amount of corseting and binding my body gave me a perfect shape. The dress just didn’t fit well. Then, as I was wheeling into the church, I glanced down and noticed that I’d accidentally run over the hem of my dress, leaving a greasy tire mark. My paralyzed hands couldn’t hold the bouquet of daisies that lay off-center on my lap. And my chair, though decorated for the wedding, was still a big, clunky gray machine with belts, gears, and ball bearings. I certainly didn’t feel like the picture-perfect bride in a bridal magazine. I inched my chair closer to the last pew to catch a glimpse of Ken in front. There he was, standing tall and stately in his formal attire. I saw him looking for me, craning his neck to look up the aisle. My face flushed, and I suddenly couldn’t wait to be with him. I had seen my beloved. The love in Ken’s face had washed away all my feelings of unworthiness. I was his pure and perfect bride. How easy it is for us to think that we’re utterly unlovely — especially to someone as lovely as Christ. But he loves us with the bright eyes of a Bridegroom’s love and cannot wait for the day we are united with him forever.” And we, unattractive, frightened, paralyzed and imperfect, yet wild with hope, come to the wedding feast of the Lamb. We feel inadequate and unworthy, yet our eyes are fixed on Christ. We are overwhelmed with emotion as we know that we are loved and accepted just as we are, and that the wedding will bring about a transformation. The blood and water that flowed from his side has released us from our bondage, healed our brokenness and cleansed us from our sin. We become the Bride of Christ, not just in theory or potentially, but in reality. And there, together with him and all the redeemed, we will taste the new wine of the kingdom. The writer of Revelation proclaimed: “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true’” (Revelation 21:2-5).
(Note: A true story made to be an illustration in Sermoncentral)